What Adds Value?

I’m starting the new year off with a new account over at quora. Today’s question is: “What should I do to increase the value of my San Francisco home?” and my answer is as follows:

Well, that depends on how much you want to spend! If you are considering major home improvements or remodeling, as a general rule in San Francisco, kitchen and bath makeovers will give you the biggest return on your investment when you sell. However, that assumes you will be selling your home within a short time-frame of completing the home improvement. Remodeling now with a plan to sell in 10 years will give you a 10 year-old kitchen when you hit the market, which will look dated compared to other homes that have been freshly remodeled. But if you’ll enjoy that kitchen immensely for the next 10 years, then I say you’ve spent wisely!

Keeping your home in good shape (watertight roof, nicely painted, no rotting decks or stairs) is another important thing you can do to maintain and increase home value. A good San Francisco home inspector (and/or savvy buyer and buyer’s agent) will be able to spot a well-cared for home. Investments in hidden infrastructure (electrical, plumbing, sewage, foundation to name a few) are often under-appreciated by buyers because they just expect them to be there. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t replace your foundation if it is need of replacing. It just means a buyer isn’t likely to place a high value on that item. The buyer’s logic being, “I fully expect any home to have a foundation. What’s the big deal?” If your windows are old, buyers often appreciate newer double-paned windows and doors (as long as you don’t buy the cheap looking ones which look, well, cheap!)

If you plan on occupying your home for quite a while, I would say the most important home improvements you should do to increase your home value are the ones that you would enjoy living with the most. The only catch is that if the improvements you make are so specific to your taste (a backyard landscape featuring a labyrinth made out of expensive mutli-colored glass marbles imported from an exotic locale, for example) that they might turn-off a buyer or prevent a buyer from seeing other possibilities, your real estate agent may ask you to remove them when preparing the home for sale.

Leave a Reply